Entry Service

Grivo’s ship plummeted through the atmosphere at 5X terminal velocity. From the city floating on the ocean surface of the moon, a thin grey streak ran across the sky.

The metal shutter doors over the windows of the cabin pulled up to reveal the vast emptiness of Ganymede. Silver waves reflected in the rays from the small sun on the horizon. The small furry Gederian pressed up against the window from the dash and looked over the curvature of the moon below. His ears perked up and his spiny tail weaved slowly back and forth. In the distance five circular citadels connected by sturdy bridges floated on the ocean surface: the capital.  Grivo looked over to Lynda who had passed out from her dose of Mox V. She reclined deeply into the passenger seat with a sheepish grin plastered on her face.

Slowly, the lights in the cabin began to return and the glow of various controls on the dash returned. Grivo looked away from the human woman to the dashboard and sat back in the pilot’s seat. On the smart windows, the trajectory of the Ganymede entry services program showed an orange pathway down to the city far below. Grivo hit some switches to bring the electronics back online.

After a few silent minutes the surface was much closer and the curvature of the moon was becoming a flatter angle. The silver metropolis below neared quickly as the ocean waters closed beneath them.

A generic tone came over the speakers and the voice of an automated woman came over the comlink:

“Thank you for choosing the Ganymede entry protocol service. We are happy to report a successful entry. You now have landing permits for Capital City, docking bay 94 on the near side of the main citadel. Your trajectory and velocity can be modulated by the program, but manual control will be restored once a safe operational speed has been achieved.”

Grivo sighed. He looked to the speedometer and leaned back in his seat to wait for the program to take the ship down to the dock.

“Would you like to participate in a short survey to reflect upon the nature of your entry? This can help us fine tune our program to better serve you in the future.”

“No.” said Grivo into the comlink.

There was a short pause before the voice of the woman returned

“Thank you. This survey should not take more than five minutes.”

“No!” said Grivo.

“Question one:” Said the program as the ship hurtled closer towards the city. “On a scale of one to five, one being completely unsatisfied and five being most satisfied, how courteous was your GES representative.”

“Umm. three.” said Grivo as he massaged his temples. Lynda stirred in the passenger seat.

The recorded voice returned. “Question two: How comfortable was your entry experience. One being most uncomfortable and five being-”

“Ahh, are we there yet?” muttered a dazed Lynda.

As the surface neared, Grivo looked back to the speedometer. The speed was unchanged from entry.

” Um three.” Said Grivo into the comlink. He sat up in his seat and looked over the dash.

Lynda laughed “What does that mean?”

“I’m answering this survey. We’re just coming in.”

Lynda settled back into her chair. “Wake me when we land.”

Grivo’s brow furrowed “…But, our speed should have slowed by now.”

The ship shot trough the air of Ganymede towards the city below, now growing larger in the windows.

“Question Three:” Said the automated woman “How successful would you rate the GES program?” Grivo’s eyes flew over the controls and he began to pull back on the throttle. Nothing changed. The city neared before them.

“What?” said Lynda picking her head up.

“We’re coming in too fast!” said Grivo, now flipping switches and trying to pull the controls back.

The voice of the recorded woman was confused. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. On a scale of one to five, how successful would you rate the GES program?”

“I don’t have any control, the program is locking me out.” The city was now much closer. Somewhere in one of the towers below, a worker monitored the ship’s progress. A smile spread across their lips.

“Are you Kidding me!” Lynda said, now bolt upright in her seat. The waves below could be seen lapping against the citadel platform in the sun.

“I need to override the program” said Grivo, suddenly diving below the dashboard near the rudder peddles. He began to claw at the underpannel.

The calm voice returned: “I’m sorry, i didn’t catch that-”

ONE!” yelled Grivo as he threw off the panel and began to pull out wires.

Their altitude continued to plummet as Lynda gripped the armrests of her chair. WIth wide eyes she watched as the silver city infrastructure filled the windows. Grivo pulled out a circuit board form beneath the dash and threw it across the cabin. Lynda rose as the towers below became clear. Speeder car traffic and monorails zoomed below in the tangled cityscape of the growing city below.

“What should I do!?” screamed Lynda looking over to Grivo’s feet sticking out from under the dashboard. The spines on his tail were frayed outwards as he furiously ripped out wires and electronics.

The survey continued. “Question Four: Would you recommend the GES program to any future travelers? Say yes or no.”

“NO!” Grivo yelled, “Take the controls, pull the thruster back and pull up on the wheel!”

The windows and towers were now flying by as the ship hurtled into the city at a blistering speed. Lynda shook away confusion and jumped the center console, grasping the controls with white knuckles and pulling back as far as they would go. The hanger was fast approaching in the main central tower.

The ship rocketed through traffic to the surprise of commuters on the skyway.

Red and blue lights began to flash in front of Grivo’s face as the wires hanging around him shook with the motions of the ship.

“Question five. Would you be willing to donate to the GES in order to reduce the cost of entry? Please say yes or no.”

Lynda closed her eyes and put her whole weight into pulling back on the wheel. Buildings and speeder cars were all around them as Grivo pulled out one last wire from the tangled underpannel. The ship groaned and shook as the craft suddenly hurtled upward at fantastic speed. Lynda held fast to the controls as they shook in her hands. The hanger building loomed in front of them and in a split reaction, Lynda twisted the wheel around. Dampers opened all around the ship and the thrusters dimmed as the craft corkscrewed away from the tower, spinning with velocity out over the city and into the sky. Grivo was flung from under the dash, past Lynda, and into the ceiling.

Lynda pulled back on the throttle and straightened out the ship’s course before letting out a deep sigh. The ship drove high above the metropolis and slowed to a safe and quiet speed.

Lynda crumpled over the dashboard and breathed heavy, the sweat beading on her neck and face.

“We made it.” she said

Grivo let out a manic laugh. Lynda looked back to see him dangling from the ceiling, the spines on his tail stuck into the upholstery.

The automated woman on the comlink returned:

“This concludes the Ganymede entry protocol service. Thank you and enjoy your stay here on Ganymede.”

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Radio

The radio sputtered with static. Garbled voices of various pitches whirred into focus and then away with the rapid switch between stations. A band of blue green light waved with the frequencies in the center of the console behind scratched and dirty glass. The green numbered preset buttons below stood at attention between two knobs outlined with neon orange against the darkness of the cabin.

The static waved like rain on a metal roof, became interlaced with pops and waves, or receded for a moment to give way to the muffled voice of some alien creature. Nothing clear or decipherable could be heard. In the vast world of radio frequencies, nothing was picked up by the device.

Lynda swiveled her chair away from the window.

“It’s busted. Why do you keep trying.” Her crossed arms ignored the brown canvas of the puffy foam passenger chair.  Beyond the glass behind her, the neon lights of the spaceway and other ships in the night moved quickly across the stars.

“You don’t have any appreciation for frequency jumping do you?” Said Grivo. The little fox looking alien stood on the edge of the pilot’s chair, his claws digging into the imitation leather material. One of his furry hands was on the console of the radio and the other held the wheel.  His face was alight with an animal curiosity at the radio while the frequency band reflected blue green off of his dark glistening eyes.

The sounds of the dead radio whirred and jumped some more around the hi-fi rigged surround sound system of the ship’s cabin. The strange and abstract noises from mysterious sources fell flatly on Lynda whose face somehow depressed further into her crossed arms. The blaring static and garbage noise polluted her mind with a rising landfill of rage until she snapped.

She flung her arms out at the little creature.

“CANT YOU PLEASE JUST PUT ON A SONG for gods… sake-”

Just at that moment, her wide eyes cooled. Her mouth hung open and her arm muscles relaxed as a driving back beat of pedal drum and bass guitar smited her. With crystalline clarity the groove arose from the sea of static. The song was graced with the presence of a guitar. It’s silver strings vibrating smoothly along the frets. A soft soulful saxophone meandered above it all.  The notes hit her like heat to butter. A lone voice took over singing words in another language which could have meant anything to her.

The song had a magical effect on her until the saxophone’s solo was beginning to rise and a curtain of dense static dropped over the experience.

“Eh, not my favorite tune. Too lounge music don’t you think?” said Grivo turning the dials with a fervency once more.

“Hey! Change it back!” said Lynda

“Oh you liked it?”

“YES! That song was from Earth!”

Grivo looked back with a confused tilt.

“My home planet.”

The static continued around them, Grivo seemed to be thinking the same thing.

Lynda furrowed her brow. “It made me nostalgic.”

Grivo flicked his wrist and the music smoothly retook the cabin. Lynda sat back in the chair and swiveled it towards the window. Grivo let go of the dial and focused his eyes and both hands on piloting. The white and yellow electronic lines on the glass showed the safest lanes of travel as ships switched between them. Their thrusters were a myriad of colors.

“I have no idea what nostalgia is. But it must be nice for you humans. I ether like music or I don’t.” Said Grivo

“No.” Said Lynda “It’s not like that…it’s …well…uh…It’s that the music makes me think about other things. Nostalgia is like a kind of homesick…but for memories too…”

It was Grivo’s turn to furrow his brow. “Why would you want to be homesick?”

“It’s not like that- just- just forget it, lets just listen to the song in peace.” Said Lynda, her arms resuming their crossed position. She looked out the window at the approaching hyper-jump gate, in orbit around Gatamine while french smooth jazz played around the alien’s spaceship.

Part 2 —> http://bit.ly/1BxzbWa